A Peer Support Specialist (PSP) is a person with a diagnosis of mental illness who has been employed to work with other people living with mental health illnesses. Peer support occurs when people provide knowledge, experience, emotional, social or practical help to each other.
The PSP approach to care is unique within the mental health industry in so far as we accept people as they are.
For example PSP’s don’t view people as their diagnosis or manage human beings as cases. We look at people more as the solution to their problems rather than as a problem themselves.
PSP’s encourage and support people overcome their mental health challenges and not be limited by them.
For example individuals with mental health challenges are never to be defined by their illness; they should be recognized for skills and talents and be encouraged and supported in developing their abilities.
PSP’s also teach people about recovery.
Recovery is a process, beginning with diagnosis and eventually moving into successful management of your illness.
Successful recovery involves learning about your illness and the treatments available, empowering yourself through the support of peers and family members, and finally moving to a point where you take action to manage your own illness by helping others.
Peer Support Specialists teach that you can recover from mental illness.
Recovery however means different things to different people.
Generally speaking it is about working towards your goals and having hope for the future.
Recovery is something you achieve for yourself. It is not something that someone else does for you. But others may be able to help if you want them to.
Lastly Peer Support Specialists model recovery, teach skills and offer supports to help people experiencing mental health challenges lead meaningful lives in the community.